Presentation on theme: "The Inner Planets: Geology"— Presentation transcript:
1 The Inner Planets: Geology Inner planets vs outer planetsMaking surfacesSources of heatInteriors, layering and whySurface Area to Volume ratio and how it controls cooling ratePlate tectonics vs thickness of crust
5 Therefore, inside the Frost Line… It’s too hot close to the sun. No ices. So only the rocky material (~3% of the solar nebula) could collect. Not hydrogen and helium since their thermal velocities are high and escape velocities from these small planets are lowMost plentiful component is iron (why? Because massive stars blow up when they develop iron cores, scattering it all over the place!)
6 Making an Inner PlanetAfter the heavier elements and minerals condensed into solid bits of dust and rock, they all orbited the Sun at about the same speed.Collisions between objects moving at the ~same speed are less destructive than those of objects moving at different speeds. Thus, when “dust bunnies” orbiting the Sun move close to one another, they can stick together more often than they destroy each other. Electrostatic force can provide the “glue”, as we saw beforeThese pieces gradually grow larger in a process called accretion. Once they are large enough, gravity forces them into spherical shapes.
7 Bringin’ HeatInitially the inner planets are small and so self-gravity is weak and accretion is fairly gentleLate stages, self gravity is substantial and the accretion velocities are bigger. The kinetic energy of impacts ½mv2 = (3/2)kT. Impact velocity is a few km/sec due to differential orbital speed, plus the velocity due to the gravity of the planet: about 10 km/sec. ~15 km/sec is 15 times faster and 200 times more energy per pound than a high powered rifle bullet! Easily gives enough temperature to melt rock!Second source of heating: Radioactive decay of heavy elements supplies long term heating, mainly deep inside where it’s hard to conduct or convect away.
8 Molten Inner PlanetsIf the planet is molten, the heavier chemical elements will sink towards the core, and the ligher elements will rise to the surface.Layering – is proof of the molten history of the Earth, and other inner planets.Surface elements are dominated by light rocky elements: silicon, aluminum, oxygen, magnesium, carbon…
10 How Rapidly Does a Planet Cool? Planets cool from their surface, and surface area goes as diameter squaredBut their heat content is proportional to their mass, which is proportional to their volume (assuming roughly similar chemical composition between inner planets), and volume goes as diameter cubed!Therefore: Bigger things cool SLOWER!All planets have been cooling for the same period of time – 4.6 billion years. Therefore…Big planets will have thinner crusts!
12 MercurySmallest planet, only 3,000 mi across. About 40% of Earth’s diameter600F on daylight side, too hot to retain any atmospheric molecules at all. Probably doesn’t help that the sun is so close and solar storms can rack the planet and carry off any atmosphere too.Cratering shows it hasn’t had atmosphere for most of the solar system’s historyAlso the densest planet – BIG iron core.
13 Why is Mercury so Dense?Early theory – initial sun was so luminous it vaporized much of Mercury’s lighter elements in the crustMessenger Mission says no – large sulfur deposits – several percent of Mercury’s crust by mass!, and large potassium-to-thorium ratio shows volatiles are much more common still today than this theory allowsProbably, Mercury condensed from iron-rich materials which may have predominated in the innermost solar nebula.
21 A fault line (A Lobate Scarp, Actually) But notice how the fault is older than nearly every other crater it crosses.Apparently, and perhaps not surprisingly, Mercury appears to have geologically “died” as a planetary youngsterFits nicely with the rapidly thickening crust predicted by basic physics: cooling rate vs heat capacityOther evidence of geologic activity: large volcanic plains (thanks to Messenger, we know they’re volcanic because they are sloped, unlike non-volcanic plains which are level)Mercury has shrunk by about 1 mile after forming a crust, creating the many scarps. Lots of volatiles evaporated off the planet
31 So we see on Venus… Volcanoes, thousands of them! Cracks in a thin crustA few BIG impact craters, but not much in the way of small ones.It may be that the surface rock is not very hard, but more like a very stiff plastic which can flow over time. Obliterating small craters? Wind erosion?
34 Venus Geology SummaryThick clouds prevent measuring by reflection the chemical composition of the crustal surfaceVenus appears to be still volcanically active, but no evidence of plate tectonicsBoth fit nicely with the thin crust expected, and the absurdly hot 900 F temperaturesWe’ll see this is due to the Greenhouse Effect and Venus’ pure CO2 atmosphere, later when we discuss planetary atmsopheres
35 Earth – largest inner planet Crust divided into tectonic plates which move due to friction against the moving molten mantle underneath. Continental drift animation
42 But Why?We don’t see tectonic plates on the other inner planets. Why Earth?1. The Earth is the most massive inner planet and so would be expected to have the thinnest crust, most easily broken.2. The Earth has a rapid rotation…The reason may be related to the origin of the moon….
43 Our Moon is Weird No other inner planet has a sizable moon If our moon formed as part of a spinning proto-Earth, you’d expect it would orbit in the same plane as our equator. Instead it orbits close to the ecliptic planeIt’s got only a tiny iron coreIts chemical composition is the same as the earth’s outer mantle and crustAnd… the Earth spins much faster than Venus or Mercury, and faster than Mars too.
44 Putting These Clues Together Strongly Suggests… The moon was created as a by-product of a collision between the early Earth and another planet.How big a planet? We have run detailed numerical simulations, throwing all the relevant physics into numerical computer codes of different kinds (smoothed-particle hydrodynamics, adaptive mesh, finite-element…) numerically integrating it forwardHere’s an animation of such a simulation
45 Formation of Our MoonLooks like a ~Mars-sized planet hit the Earth with a glancing blowSpraying molten and vaporized material mostly made of the outer parts of both planets, outward and into a ringThe heavy stuff of both planets settled by gravity to the bottom, giving the Earth a significant iron / nickel coreThe light stuff became the ring, 90% of which slowly spiraled back in by collisional friction and settled back onto our surface becoming our crustBut roughly 10% of the ring was able to self-gravitate into the Moon before it fell back to EarthThe moon is only a little more than 1% of the mass of the Earth.
46 After it formed…We would then have a very rapidly rotating Earth, much faster rotating than it currently isAnd a very close moonSo we would get very strong tides – MANY times stronger than today’s tidesAnd tidal friction would rapidly transfer angular momentum from the spinning Earth to the orbiting moon, causing it to spiral outwardTill today, when it is now 60 Earth radii away, and tidal stress is weak, but still slowly pushing the moon further away, and having slowed the earth to a 24 hour “day”.
50 Age of the Moon Oldest meteorites are 4.57 billion years Oldest lunar rocks are 4.4 to 4.5 billion years ago, from lunar highlands. In ’09, a zircon from an Apollo 17 rock dated to 4.42 billion years old. The crust of the moon should have formed within 90 million years of the impact creating the moon, putting the origin impact at ~4.52 billion years ago, agreeing well with the oldest meteorites.Oldest rocks on Earth are 4.0 billion years, from northern Canada, but zircon crystals imbedded in some rocks date to at least 4.3 billion years old
54 Summary on the MoonInner planets don’t HAVE moons – because they likely were not massive enough nor spinning rapidly enough to have a massive flattened disk which could condense into moons, like the bigger outer planets didNow - We DO have a Moon! But it took a random (rare?) collision with a BIG (former) planet to make it, and it took a glancing blow to produce the massive ring required to make a moon which is still only 1% of our own mass, to spin us up.The existence of the moon may be key to why life is possible on our planet, but more on that later in the course.
56 Mars – Half the Diameter of Earth Mars is small, cooled quicker than Earth, with much less radioactive decay heat contribution. Crust thickened up and yet…Huge volcanoes, with possible recent activityNo moving tectonic plate evidenceAncient volcanoes but they do not appear to be active in the recent past
57 Key Points on Earth Geology Plate Tectonics requires (1) thin crust (therefore large planet), and (2) Rapid rotation. Earth is the only planet that qualifies!Plate tectonics dominates mountain building, weathering, re-surfacing of Earth.Water brought to Earth by comets, meteorites early on. Dominates the surfaceEarth unique in having a large moon. Moon stabilizes the Earth’s rotation axis.
88 Mars has two tiny moons Phobos, and Diemos Probably captured asteroids, orbits do not indicate they formed as part of Mars.Mars also spins in 24 hours, convection in the mantle?May have been geologically active early on, but crust is now likely to be too thick to allow plate motion. And…Mars has no magnetic field, indicating that there is little movement of a molten interior.
92 Mars - Geologic Activity Possibilities? Mars spins in 24.5 hours, so… if convection in the mantle, could friction the crustWell, may have been geologically active early on, but small diameter means crust cooled fast, likely to be too thick to allow plate motion now. And…Mars has no magnetic field, indicating that there is, in fact, little movement of any molten interior todayThe atmosphere argues the quiet interior has been true for some time… we’ll talk more about this soon!
93 As a Last Point… Note What Causes a Magnetic Field for a Planet Caused by moving charges, which create an electric current. Circulating electric current creates a magnetic field. A planet needs two conditions to have a decent magnetic field--1. Beneath the surface, an electrically conducting interior material (metals are great for this, Iron especially)--2. Significant rotation, to generate motion of the conducting material
94 Magnetic Fields Important for Evolution of Atmospheres – Our Next Topic…